Firefly: Big Damn Hero by Nancy Holder and James Lovegrove

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It’s been almost sixteen years since Firefly was cancelled by FOX, and honestly I’m still not over it. As a person that lives in a reality where Serenity does not exist, I was more than eager to dive back into the black with the crew that started my love for space opera and ragtag crews. But I was also apprehensive: would the series hold up? For me this book was everything that I was looking for and I am so excited for the next books in the series!

Firefly: Big Damn Hero contextually happens in the middle of the short lived tv series, which means that some jobs and events from the eleven episodes are referenced, but the great thing is that a reader new to the Firefly franchise will not feel lost among references. Holder and Lovelace did an excellent job of including references for fans of the tv series without alienating an entirely new audience.

The plot (re)introduces the reader to the cast and the world, and in my opinion does a good job of recalling the necessary worldbuilding framework to slowly bring you into the world. It didn’t read like too much information that I already knew as a fan of the ‘verse, which I have to commend the authors on. The witty banter between the characters and the sprinkling of Chinese phrases brought me so much nostalgia and felt incredibly authentic to the source material.

The Serenity crew is on the planet Persephone preparing to take a shipment off-world for Badger, but Mal goes missing during a meeting with a new client. Due to the sensitive nature of Badger’s shipment (those boxes are explosives and degrading fast), the crew has to split up between tracking Mal down and delivering the shipment. But don’t forget that the Tams are fugitives and the Alliance will stop at nothing to track down River. These three plotlines feel true to the episodic nature of the show with the big transportation job and the Alliance breathing down the crew’s necks.

Mal goes missing on Alliance Day, and it turns out that his kidnappers are Browncoats who feel betrayed by losing the war. I thought this was such an ingenious way to frame the exposition of more history, especially since so much of Mal and Zoe’s identity is in the Battle of Serenity and the cause they fought for. Where Serenity provided “closure” following an abrupt cancellation, this book series is going to provide more transport jobs, more answers about our characters, and more worldbuilding. I love the politics of the Alliance and how the world got to a point where the only two superpowers remaining in the world were the US and China… what led them to abandon the Earth-that-was and take to the sky? (This may be fleshed out more in the movie, but I am not joking when I said that I live in a reality where the movie doesn’t exist – I watched it once in 2005.) This television series honestly has some of the most loyal fanbases I have ever seen, and I think this book did us browncoats proud. It wasn’t perfect, but I am so happy that it exists.

As much as I loved the worldbuilding and plotline of the book, I would be remiss to not mention the characters. Mal, Zoe, Jayne, and Shepard Book felt 100% true to the characters that we know and love; however, I do think that Simon, River and Kaylee felt a little off. I am not sure what exactly it was but they didn’t sound right to me, but that could be related to them getting less “page time” in this book. I look forward to their characters shining in the next book because it is obvious that the authors can nail the character’s voices.

As weird as it might sound, I was really happy that Badger is in the book. Mark Sheppard literally was the early 00’s actor for so many science fiction shows (Romo Lampkin in Battlestar Galactica, and most notably his long run as Crowley on Supernatural).

I think my favorite character of the book has to be Book. I loved getting inside of his head and watching him approach the problems at hand, and I am even more intrigued about his past. Of everything that getting back into this world brings, the answers about Book’s life before he became a Shepard kind of tops my list.

I honestly loved this book, it was such a great way to slowly introduce some backstory on the Battle of Serenity, the politics still at play in relation to the Browncoats vs. the Alliance, and the characters backstories. This was an excellent first-in-series start that feels true to the television show without needing to retcon the movie completely. (Because let’s be real, I am not interested in anything post-Serenity, and I will never get over the sudden and inevitable betrayal.) I finished reading this book sixteen minutes before 2018 ended, and it was a great way to finish 2018! Overall, this was a wild ride back into the world of Firefly that I sorely missed; I loved learning some of the backstory that Fox robbed us from fifteen years ago and look forward to the next installment! (Which, speaking of the next installment… The Magnificent Nine comes out in March and Jayne and his hat are on the cover and I am ALL ABOUT THE HERO OF CANTON & HIS STATEMENT MAKING HAT.)


You can find information about my rating criteria here.

The first original novel tying into the critically acclaimed and much-missed Firefly series from creator Joss Whedon.

The Battle of Serenity Valley was the turning point that led the Independents to their defeat at the hands of the Alliance. Yet the Browncoats had held the valley for weeks against all odds, before being ordered to lay down their arms. Command stated they refused to send in airpower because the ground war was “too hot.” But the soldiers who were there insist that was not true…

While picking up a new cargo on Persephone, Captain Malcolm Reynolds is kidnapped by a bunch of embittered veteran Browncoats who suspect him of sabotaging the Independents during the war. As the rest of the crew struggle to locate him, Mal is placed on trial for his life, fighting compelling evidence that someone did indeed betray them to the Alliance all those years ago. As old comrades and old rivals crawl out of the woodwork, Mal must prove his innocence, but his captors are desperate and destitute, and will settle for nothing less than the culprit’s blood.


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Hi! I’m Kaleena: book lover, runner, wanderer, and philanthropist. Life is an adventurous gift: through the outdoors and books. I run Reader Voracious Blog, where I post spoiler-free book reviews of science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, and mystery & thriller.

41 thoughts on “Firefly: Big Damn Hero by Nancy Holder and James Lovegrove

  1. Whoa I had no idea this was a thing! I’m glad that it takes place in the middle of the series, because like you, I also live in a world in which Serenity does not exist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you on being concerned, I was very nervous about this one (kind of like I am TERRIFIED to read Slayer, but at least Joss was involved with this in some way). I really loved learning a bit more about Book and the war with the Alliance, and really appreciated the political spin with Browncoats after the war. I definitely recommend it!


    1. I definitely understand, I have a lot of feelings about it (FOX airing the episodes out of order, cancelling it early and it being left with no ending). It’s an incredible piece of character-driven tv that was cancelled before its time. You should watch it though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So.. I’ve never seen Serenity.. So I’m still here crying over the cancelation of a show that was never broadcasted in the Netherlands and I had to watch.. well. let’s say it wasn’t what an upstanding citizing would do :’) This book seems right up my alley, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the show and I don’t really have much time to rewatch it, even if the show is so short (I’m sorry I’m quietly sobbing here), but this seems like it would be perfect for me! After Gemina.. and Obsidio and This Mortal Coil. The Discord group isn’t healthy for me, I don’t have any time to sleep left.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am saying this with all the love in my heart and best intention Joss had… but I wouldn’t recommend watching Serenity. It was nice at the time to try to provide some closure and a bit more worldbuilding because, you know, the show was cancelled before that stuff got to the screen. But I am mad. But anyways, read this book and then scream to me about it! And muahahahaha I love adding to TBR Towers.


    1. 😱 Definitely watch the show first, otherwise some of the references will be lost. Not crucial, and I think the book is written in a way that is open to a new person to the world, but the characters. Fall in love with them and the hilarious one liners from Captain Mal. I’ll even watch with you.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea I am going to rewatch the show this weekend, hehehe. I was really nervous too but the fact that Joss was a consulting editor helped me take a chance, and I am so glad I did! It’s really more of a continuation than a spinoff, all the same characters and the plot feels very much like the way an episode would be structured.


  3. I have been told by so many people I should watch the show given I love my Sci Fi. Reading your review of this book I’m wondering if maybe I should read the books instead? When I eventually get around to it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While you definitely can pick up this book and dive into the world, I definitely have a huge place in my heart for the show and recommend watching it! The characters & one liners & banter are so good, and it’s worth watching those 11 episodes.


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